Punch profit falls as business splits

PUNCH Taverns yesterday reported a fall in half-year profits, as it splits into two separate businesses.

Pre-tax profits for the 28 weeks to 5 March came in at £61m, down from the £66m recorded a year earlier. Like-for-like sales at the group’s managed pubs rose 4.9 per cent over the period, and by 8.2 per cent in the second-half.

The group is currently restructuring and splitting its managed and leased pubs into two separate companies.

Chief executive Ian Dyson said: “We are pleased that our operational initiatives continue to translate into improved performance within both managed and leased businesses.

“Despite the challenging UK consumer environment, we remain confident of making further progress in the second half of the financial year.”

Last month, Punch announced it would sell thousands of pubs as part of its restructuring plans.

The size of the leased business, in which landlords rent the pub and get their supplies from Punch, will be halved to about 3,000 pubs.

Punch has suffered double-digit declines in profits for the past two years and is more reliant on the declining drinking-out market. The managed business, named Spirit, will be expanded to about 1,000 pubs.

Punch Taverns has been struggling with falling profits and rising debt, which hit £3.3bn last year.

The group yesterday said Walker Boyd would be joining the board as a non-executive director. He will eventually be non excecutive chairman of Spirit.